Surat Shabd Yoga or the Yoga of the Sound Current
The word 'Surat' means attention, consciousness, meditation, or the soul. The word 'Shabd' means the Dhun-atmak or melody-based Name or Power of the Lord. 'Yoga' means the uniting of the Surat with the Shabd and becoming one with it. Hearing the melody, the soul is irresistibly drawn to it. This melody is resounding everywhere, but unless we are attentive we cannot hear it. This melody is the Shruti (that which is heard) of the sages. It is also called Udgit, or the music from above. It is not an external or worldly music. It is the music of the soul. Sufis call it Sama. It can be heard by the soul. Muslim holy men call it Sultan-ul-Azkar or King of Melodies, Sot-e-Sarmadi or Divine Voice and Sot-e-Nasiri or the Voice of Victory.
In Punjabi, the word 'Surat' means consciousness. It refers to the conscious being of man, namely, the soul. It is for this reason that it came to mean the soul. The Shabd or Celestial Music has already been discussed in several sections. Yoga means union or connection. The method by which the soul may become absorbed in the Shabd and become united with it so that it will never separate from it again is called Surat-Shabd-Yoga, or the union of the soul with the Divine Music of the Lord.
Surat-Shabd-Yoga is very ancient and has existed from the very beginning. It is natural. One cannot add to or subtract anything from it. The Shabd was in the beginning. It created this universe. The soul has a natural affinity for the Heavenly Music of Naam.
Yogas are of different kinds. The object of the lower yogas is to awaken the Serpent Power, Kundalini. These yogas are concerned with the chakras, centre of the body. The Saints have not accepted them. Good health can be obtained by means of Hatha Yoga. Through Pran Yoga, the yoga of breathing in certain ways, control of the breath can be achieved, and health and long life can be attained. Through the yoga of the mind, one can control the mind. The yoga of knowledge sharpens the intellect and enables one to understand the oneness of the soul and God.
The six chakras or centres of Brahmanda, the second spiritual region, are reflected in the regions below it. The reflection of the six centres of Anda, the astral region, is seen in Pinda, the physical universe.
The Saints disregard the six lower centres of the body and enjoin the practice of listening to the celestial Music at the eye-centre, which is above the six lower centres. They consider Surat-Shabd-Yoga, the Yoga of uniting the soul with the Divine Sound, to be the highest of all the yogas. Its object is to connect the soul with the Shabd and by this means to merge the soul in the Supreme Silence, Ashabd, the Akeh, Unutterable and the Nirala, Wonderful, from which it originally emanated. Without the soul there can be no yoga or worldly activity.
Guru Nanak Sahib says:
As is the soul, so is the way.
Sri Rag M1, 24-19
When one heeds with reverence the Guru's Word, his soul is awakened and he is honoured in the court of the Lord.
Sri Rag M1, 18-3
Kabir Sahib and all the Saints and the ten Gurus of the line of Guru Nanak have taught the practice of Surat-Shabd-Yoga. What is Surat-Shabd-Yoga? It is another name for the practice of the Name of the Lord.
Nanak knew the immaculate Name, and gave it devotion with love. Guru Angad had it as part of him, He showered the Heavenly Music continuously.
Sawayye M4, 1406-3
This is the means of meeting the Lord.
Beyond is the Friend, the unique Beloved. The Word of the Master takes the soul across.
Tukhari M1, 1113-11
Surat Shabd Yoga is easy to practise. One does not have to undergo suffering while practising it, as in other yogas. It is accordingly called Sehaj Yoga, or the Easy Path. One does not have to make any effort except that of listening to the melody of the Shabd with close attention. A child, youth, or an old person belonging to any sex, caste, creed and country can practise this Yoga. One does not have to undergo hardships as in Hatha Yoga. One can practise it while living at home and carrying on one's worldly duties. It is not necessary to change one's religion in order to practise it. Anyone belonging to any race, community, religion or faith can practise it.